Defunct groups of all kinds, from the classic-rock Allman Brothers to the new-wave B-52’s, have been surging back to life. So why not the Time, which disintegrated in 1985 just at the moment of its greatest success, when it — and especially its suavely comic lead singer, Morris Day — starred in Prince’s movie Purple Rain?
One thing is sure: The Time returns as almost a supergroup. After the band broke up, lead guitarist Jesse Johnson launched a smash solo career; keyboard player Jimmy Jam and bassist Terry Lewis became one of the hottest R&B production teams in the business, responsible for, among other hits, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. So the Time’s new record reunites musicians who are now some of the biggest names in music.
They work together smoothly, backing Day (who had solo hits while the band was out of action, and who is returning to the screen in Ford Fairlane, with Andrew Dice Clay, and in Prince’s upcoming Graffiti Bridge). Day is still the comedian, the high-voiced party dude who can’t remember whether he’s driving a BMW or a Cadillac, and who never quite gets the girl, maybe because, as he dramatizes in the song ”Chocolate,” he’s forever breaking off his pursuit to eat dinner. ”Isn’t that Morris Day over there?” asks a woman in one of several comic interludes between songs. ”Who cares?” shrugs her friend.
There are touches of Prince in Pandemonium, the opening cut; there are touches of rock in ”Blondie,” a song about an aggressive dumb blond; there’s one serious song, ”It’s Your World,” which encourages kids to stay in school. But most of the album sounds like a party in full swing. It’s subtle, funked-out R&B, a stew of dancing and laughter with surprises guaranteed nearly every step of the way.